Monday, 13 September 2010

ON FRIENDSHIP

The road, undulating and slightly inclined rushes forward and takes a tortuous turn by the side of a mango tree to merge diligently into the main thoroughfare. The mango tree has always been there, jutting out on the road, stooped by thick foliage and network of branches. Some thoughtful philanthropist has cemented a seat around it so that panting walkers like me can rest for a while under its shade. That is what I do exactly every morning. Maneuvering the dents and the elevations of the road leaves me out of breath. The tempting shade of the tree beckons me everyday to sit underneath it and day dream for sometime. I rest my head against its thickened shoot and inhale deeply. The fragranceful freshness of the leaves courses through my veins rejuvenating me. After a while I resume my walk back home. On sweaty summer days, this is my regular routine.

In the months of June and July when the city is taken aback by sudden, unexpected, downpours I have often taken shelter under its green awnings. Rains have given way to the pale sun of the autumn. I have so many times touched its coarse bark with delicate fingers and hummed a tune to myself. It has been my agog audience. On smoggy, bitterly cold, winter days, I have found warmth and comfort under the canopy of its broad branches frilled with frozen leaves. In spring, it has looked exuberant and glorious. Its green leaves glossy and glistening with uncontained joy; its brown rugged branches raising their arms towards the detergent-blue sky welcoming sunny, sprightly morns. Birds have chirped on its branches and bees have hovered around its buds. It has sashayed with the rhythm of the soft, chiffony wind and waved at me in happy recognition of a long association. When the tree has borne fruits, boys have clambered up its “body” to pluck them off.

Every season it has offered me its company and support in varied ways. I have listened to its silence loaded with words. I have sung so many songs sitting under its shade. So much so that sometimes I almost feel a palpable presence around its girth. A tangible feel! A perceptible touch! An audible sigh! It has always been there for me and I presume that it will always remain there for me.

I sometimes wonder what sort of relationship this is. What it gives me, it gives to all. There is no exclusive privilege or exchange here. But still there is a bond which deepens and strengthens with time. There is no mutual give and take. But the lack of it does not mar the understanding that we have. An understanding which we have never sealed with a sternly worded pledge! It is just there!

Without asking for anything in return, the tree gives me and the others so much, in fact, the best that it has, season after season, year after year. On very infrequent occasions, when I hurriedly pass by without spending a few minutes under its shade, the tree appears to be a little morose. As though the day has gone by without doing anything fruitful! Sometimes I feel it craves for my company as much as I do. Sometimes I feel it is over burdened by its loneliness. That is it. We have not exchanged words but we know about each other so much – the secret dreams, the hidden sorrows, the unstated thoughts.

My long time friend of all seasons who unconditionally gives me joy, peace and warmth of its blissful shade and silent company each and every day of my life! We "hold hands" in mute acknowledgement of each other. We enjoy this deep security of each other’s presence through thick and thin! We know what the other feels without a confession or a cringe!


That is what friendship is all about.

That is what friends are for.

Aren’t they?


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